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New List of Detection Times in Horses

New List of Detection Times in Horses

Turf Club to hold Lecture for Veterinary Surgeons and Trainers on 28th April 2011 on Detection Times and minimising the risk of raceday positives

The major European Horse Racing Authorities (including the Irish Turf Club) work together as the European Horseracing Scientific Liaison Committee (EHSLC) to work towards harmonised conditions for doping control across Europe, particularly in relation to the use of medications in sporting horses and the identification and detection of prohibited substances.

In order to assist equine veterinarians in their bona fide usage of veterinary drugs for legitimate therapeutic reasons before raceday, the EHSLC has attempted to give some minimal guidelines with respect to the elimination times of some important equine veterinary drugs.

To this end, administration studies were performed by all member countries of the EHSLC in the past few years with a view towards providing detection times for commonly used drugs in horses.

The most recent Detection Time list is published below.

These detection times are not synonymous with withdrawal times before racing
Detection times are simply data derived from controlled experiments, under ideal conditions, on a small limited number of horses. 

A safety span of some days (usually at least 2-3 days minimum) must always be added to the scientifically determined detection time in order to cater for the variations and prolongations in drug excretion times that will  inevitably occur under field conditions.

The following points must be clearly noted in respect of the stated detection times given below:-

- In the experiments, drugs were administered only to healthy horses under controlled scientific conditions.  These horses were not exercised under conditions that might be expected in routine training.  Only a small number of horses (usually 6-8) were used in the administration experiments for each drug study. Thus, with such a small population of animals generating the results, it is reasonable to expect significant variations when the drugs are used in larger populations of horses under field conditions (the "outlier" effect).

- The normal medical use of these drugs, therapeutically, in unhealthy animals, may result in longer excretion times than seen in healthy animals in  the experiments, due to a number of factors, including - variation in urinary ph, altered biotransformation and/or excretory processes.

- The effects of training/exercise programmes, different diets and feedstuffs, and stable management may cause variations in drug elimination times.

- Ingestion of excreted drug from bedding is another factor which may impact on drug excretion times, hence stable management is important.

- The detection times given below are valid only in respect of the particular formulation, dose or dosage regimen employed under the specific conditions pertaining to each experiment.

- In addition, drug interaction, where more than one drug is present can significantly affect the excretion times. Thus, the detection times listed below are not synonymous with withdrawal times (i.e. the time that must elapse between treatment and raceday, in all cases, before   a negative urinary finding occurs). The detection times are simply minimal guidelines derived from very limited experiments, and must be regarded as such i.e. minimal guidelines.

It is incumbent on the veterinary surgeon to exercise full professional judgement and discretion, taking into account all relevant circumstances and the most up to date information, before advising when a horse may safely race after drug treatment.

The safety span that must normally be added to the detection time, by the veterinary surgeon, will usually be a minimum of 2-3 days, depending on circumstances, to comfortably ensure adequate clearance of the drug from the body, under normal field conditions.

Notwithstanding this, considerable variation and prolongation of excretion may occur in a minority of cases ("Biological Variation").
The limits of detection are harmonised between the laboratories of the member countries.  The detection time is the time at which the urinary concentration of the drug or its metabolites or isomers in all the horses in the study was below the limit of detection for the drug using routine or standard screening methods.

For the benefit of veterinary surgeons and trainers, a complete list of the most up to date published detection times, as determined by the EHSLC, is given below: [click on Attachment at end of page]

Commenting on the publication of the New List of Detection Times, Turf Club Chief Executive, Denis Egan said that “it is very important that veterinary surgeons and trainers familiarise themselves with the list and to add additional days to the detection time to allow for variations and prolongations in drug excretion times.”  He went on to say that “the majority of prohibited substance findings are avoidable and are as a result of trainers not allowing sufficient time for the therapeutic drug to have left the horses system before racing.”

Note to Editors:
1. The European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee was formed in 1992 by the Racing Authorities of Ireland, Great Britain and France to work towards harmonised conditions for doping control for any horse racing within those jurisdictions. Membership was later extended to include the Racing Authorities of Germany and Italy and, more recently, the Scandinavian countries. The EHSLC has also collaborated with Racing Authorities in South Africa and Hong Kong.

2. The main objectives of the EHSLC are:
• to harmonise technical doping control policies and procedures;
• to engender co-operation between its member national horseracing regulatory authorities in research underlying the suppression of doping;
• to provide a forum for the exchange of information relating to doping control;
• to seek to unify the views of member national horseracing regulatory authorities on matters concerning doping control in order to advance a uniform European stance on doping control in the worldwide arena.

3. The Turf Club will hold a Lecture for all veterinary surgeons and trainers on Thursday, 28th April at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare, commencing at 2.30pm entitled “Detection Times and Minimising the Risks of Raceday Positives”.  The lecture will be given by Dr. Thomas Barragry and will feature a presentation on the issues, followed by a question and answers session.  As places are limited, anyone wishing to attend should contact Michelle Byrne at the Turf Club 045-445600 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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